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The average salary of a women's basketball player varies widely depending on her years in the league, her ability level and whether she's playing in the United States or in a European league. The salaries of players in the Women's National Basketball Association, or WNBA, are much lower than those of players on international teams.
WNBA Salary Minimum
According to the website Women's Basketball Online, as of February 2011 the minimum salary for a Women's National Basketball Association player with less than three years of experience is $36,570. The minimum salary for a player with over three years experience is $53,000. The league also imposes a team salary cap. limiting. As of the 2011 season, the salary cap in the WNBA is $852,000.
WNBA Maximum Salaries
The league also imposes a maximum amount for player contracts when they receive a contract extension or sign as a drafted rookie or free agent. As of the 2011 season, the maximum rookie contract in the WNBA was valued at $103,500. The maximum salary for all other WNBA players is $101,000. A player is usually eligible for free agency after serving out her rookie contract. Since the WNBA's salary cap is much lower than in other professional sports leagues, very few players earn this maximum allowed salary.
WNBA Bonus Pay
The WNBA extends bonuses to players who achieve certain milestones in a season. As of February 2011, each player on a WNBA championship team earns an additional $10,500, with players on the runner-up team receiving a bonus of $5,250. Players who are eliminated in the semi-finals earn an extra $2,625 each while players who are on playoff teams eliminated in the quarter final round earn an extra $1,050. The WNBA's most valuable player gets a salary bonus of $15,000.
European League Salaries
Many WNBA players travel to Europe in the off-season to play in international women's basketball because of the much higher salaries. According to ESPN affiliate website Ballin Europe, a player with no WNBA experience can earn between $6,000 and $7,000 a month while playing in the top leagues in countries like Spain and Italy. A player with WNBA experience can earn an average of $13,000 a month while playing in the same tier league. Elite players, like Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, earned annual salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars while playing aboard.